Meet Tim “Jace” Fox, estranged son of billionaire Lucius Fox and man of mystery…what has the eldest son of one Gotham’s premiere families been up to for these ‘missing’ years and how does he find himself getting shot at in the jungles of Vietnam? Learn these answers and many more as the story of the SECOND SON begins!
A quick commentary, yes, being a millionaire in Manhattan is almost middle class. That is true. That I can personally attest to. Because if you’re not a millionaire and living in Manhattan…
And I believe Tokyo is an even more expensive place to live, so I imagine the same holds true.
Initially, when FUTURE STATE: THE NEXT BATMAN was announced I wasn’t all that interested in it.
Being a political junkie I knew who John Ridley was from his years of being a guest commentator on various cable TV political shows, and from his DC Comics/Vertigo miniseries THE AMERICAN WAY, and THE AMERICAN WAY: THOSE ABOVE AND THOSE BELOW follow-up miniseries.
I love the Jason Fisher character, by the way, and curious about the movie adaption.
Of course, I was also aware of who John Ridley was from his day job, and his Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave.
And knew him from his screenplay for Red Tails.
Red Tails, also on HBO Max
So I’ve been a fan of his work for years.
John Ridley’s THE OTHER HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE I’m also a huge fan of, it’s my favorite comic book series, which I guess makes him my favorite comic book writer – even though he’s not a full-time comic book writer and has only really done a few miniseries.
That said, again, the idea of FUTURE STATE: THE NEXT BATMAN didn’t really move me all that much.
Then the announcement of THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON.
“…this miniseries answers the questions behind Tim’s estrangement from Lucius Fox and the rest of the Fox family and his evolution from man of mystery to Gotham’s newest guardian.”
Now I’m interested.
What’s that Django Unchained Calvin Candie quote, “Gentlemen, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.”
And where is my hoodie with this cover on it, DC Comics Shop? (And I’m only half-joking.)
Suddenly though, with that announcement, I found that I was far more interested in Tim Fox the character than I was as him as the next Batman.
Also, after reading FUTURE STATE: THE NEXT BATMAN, I found that I was far more far more interested in Tim Fox the character than I was as him as the next Batman. (Ha!)
And by extension, the Fox family. He and they were what were interesting to me, not the Batman.
Back on January 4th, Den of Geek did an interview with John Ridley:
One particular quote stood out to me:
Where is this story ultimately headed? Will Tim eventually star in his own solo book or event series? Ridley isn’t saying just yet.
“There are other very specific plans that have been created that are going to be implemented [to] make Tim very much his own individual, his own character, and have his own emotional velocity to his storytelling.”
Hopefully THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON is just the next phase in this overall plan.
And looking at it from a standpoint of John Ridley’s aforementioned day job (movies and television), could a “Second Son” HBO Max series be in the offing? I think that would be fantastic.
And Trevante Rhodes would be my choice to play Tim “Jace” Fox.
He starred in the Academy Award for Best Picture winner Moonlight.
I’ve mentioned this before, back on February 11th, Den of Geek did another interview with John Ridley:
Again, of interest, from a “who he is and how he came to be” standpoint:
Den of Geek: As soon as I saw that Tim Fox was the Next Batman, I was really excited to talk to you about that choice. You’ve spoken before about other lesser known Black heroes that meant something to you, who you’ve then later explored in your DC stories. Was Tim another one of those characters or was he someone who came up as you were researching and planning the series?
It’s been a really interesting journey getting to The Next Batman . I was working on The Other History and the second series of The American Way and I just felt very fortunate to be doing any of that. And at first I got these emails that Dan DiDio wanted to talk to me but I had to sign a nondisclosure agreement. But there was some weird thing where they were having trouble emailing it and this was prior to the pandemic, so finally they got all frustrated and were like, “Dan wants to have lunch with you.” We sat down and he said, “Oh we want you to write Batman.” That would have been tremendously cool in itself, but they said, “We want to approach Batman in a different way. We want Batman to be a character of color. But he’s going to be Batman. It’s not going to be an Elseworlds story, it’s not going to be, you know, the Dark Knight having his back broken. It’s not going to be temporary.”
Everything about it was trying to find the right way to express Batman. Who is Batman who’s a person of color? Not replacement Batman, not fantasy Batman, it’s going to be Batman. Going back a little bit, everybody in DC was very excited about The Other History . And initially the approach was, “Well, we’d love for you to create the next great DC comic book character.” That was the initial conversation before it became about Batman as a person of color. Initially, when Dan and Jim Lee approached me with that idea I was like, “Wow, I don’t know if I want to do that.” I know it sounds like a great opportunity, but I sincerely felt like, “Well, I’m too old to be writing a character that hopefully the next generation of comic book readers are going to want to be involved with.” Honestly, I think trying to create the next great character is a great way to fail. Anytime anybody in any space says, “I’m gonna do the next great whatever,” it’s just an opportunity to embarrass yourself.
So when they first approached me, I said, “I don’t know if I’m gonna be the right person.” And ironically both Jim and Dan said to me, “John, because you have that attitude, that’s all the more reason we feel like you’re the right person.”
That was that. And then, you know, months later Dan sits down and says, “Hey, we want you to do Batman. But we want you to do the next Batman.” We didn’t even have that title at that point but that was the phraseology he used. Then there were all of these things that happened with what people thought or what was meant to be 5G, and then Dan leaving the company and all of these changes. But what never changed was the desire to have a next generation of heroes. And one of them was going to be Batman and he was going to be a person of color.
Then we really got into who this person was going to be. Ben Abernathy is the group editor and I have a long history with him. Frankly, I wouldn’t be writing comic books if it weren’t for Ben, so I was very excited when he was going to be the group editor. He really was instrumental in saying, “I think that the right character should be Tim Fox.” The idea that one of the Fox sons should be Batman was a no-brainer. The conversations were out there and they were unmissable. But for me and Ben, Tim was the correct way to go.
He was always the second son. He was always this kid who just did not get along with his father. Who had divergent views about the family and the family status, and concepts of money and wealth and society. But also he disappeared for a long period of time. One of the things that was really fun for me on The Other History was leaning into things that happened in the DC Universe that may have happened because a character’s book got cancelled or that storyline just dropped away. And instead of ignoring it, how do you embrace things that happen in real life but really turn them into narrative arcs? And with Tim disappearing from the DC Universe for decades, why was he gone? Why did he go away? So using all of that negative space and saying, “Okay, we’re going to fill that void.”
As for this first issue of THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON, I see it was a quick, action-oriented introduction. And it’s looking like it’s going to be a slow burn.
Looking back at the interview with John Ridley for FUTURE STATE: THE NEXT BATMAN, from the DC Blog:
A few highlights for me:
Of particular interest to Ridley is how Tim’s reintroduction to the Batman universe allows him to explore the Fox family, a dynasty that the writer feels is one of the most important pillars of the DC Universe.
“They’ve been incredibly integrated into the Batman universe,” he suggests. “Certainly with Lucius, when a character goes from the page to the screen, they become indelible, and what he represents as a friend, as a partner, as a father figure for Bruce, as a character that the world sees, and as a remarkable man who has the capacity to run one of the largest companies in America. That’s pretty remarkable in and of itself. Luke has risen to a particular level on the page, and he hasn’t gone beyond that yet. Tanya, as far as I know, never stated what her job was, what her role was. Same with the sisters and certainly with Tim.”
The hope, at least for Ridley, is that Future State: The Next Batman will cement the Fox family’s place in the DC Universe.
“The legacy would be to leave a wholly rendered family, and that any of these characters can then move on and inhabit other spaces in the DC Universe, whether they’re heroes, whether they’re just prominent characters that can be in the legal profession, business, finance and all the other things that really underpin what’s going on with Gotham,” he reveals. “If fifteen years from now, every one of the characters within the Fox family was a strong, durable, well-known, well-understood, individual character, that when they showed up, they had a history with specific narrative events—to me, that is the legacy that I would love to leave.”
Other characters have taken Bruce Wayne’s place as Batman before, but Ridley assures readers that Tim’s tenure will be memorable.
“Even when people didn’t know who was behind the cowl, you didn’t want to feel like it’s just another iteration of somebody playing Batman for a limited time because we knew that there was just much more for Tim to do,” he says. “Everything about Bruce was driven by the loss of his family, never really being able to attach himself to people, and that need to be Batman, that need to be an avenger. That’s made him a very, very lonely man, but also one of the most compelling characters in literature. And the biggest difference is that Tim has his family and that family is always there. He too is driven by family, but in a very different way. He’s going to have to reconcile much of that in real time.”
To see a fully-realized family, and since I’m black, to see a fully-realized black family in the comics would be a nice treat.
There have been other characters who have worn the cape and cowl. What are the challenges of creating a new version of Batman?
That’s a very good question! It wasn’t so much the challenge, but the opportunity with Tim Fox. There are folks out there who have wanted the mantle and were even trained by Batman. Why did they want it? What drove them to it?
For me, it was about being hyper-specific with Tim because so much of his origin story didn’t exist previously. To have this kind of void and to make his journey so specific within his family that has so many secrets and has been around Bruce and Batman so intimately, is going to lead to a very specific version of Tim Fox and Batman. There are many characters out there who could have been Batman, but I didn’t want to have to force change or modify anything, and using Tim allowed for a very particular narrative in the creation of his incarnation of Batman.
Anyway, again, an interesting start to this series.
I see some “Future State” connections; as to be expected, I guess.
Vol is there, Jace’s Russian “Alfred,” I suppose you can call him. His hacker friend.
And we close with another tie to current the BATMAN series, and some events from the “Future State.”
As for what the future holds for Tim “Jace”, from what I understand, Joshua Williamson (writer of the upcoming ROBIN and FUTURE STATE: GOTHAM series), recently said in a podcast – at approximately the 1:07 mark, that for current continuity stories that deal with Tim we should read BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS, as well as, of course, THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON.
Also, James Tynion IV:
But beyond just dialing up the knobs on Gotham City, I wanted to make this feel like a whole exciting new era, with a whole exciting new status quo. Chalk-full of new characters and new challenges. He’s moving into a cool Townhouse in Gotham City in a new neighborhood, with nosey neighbors and tabloids under his nose wanting to understand the new life of Bruce Wayne, Millionaire. His old rival, Ghost-Maker is forcing him to touch up on his training, forcing him to recognize that he’s been sparring mostly with people he’s trained for the better part of a decade, passing along any weaknesses in his fighting styles. Batman is building new, lo-fi Batcaves under the city, and has a brand new Batmobile, with a host of cool tricks and gadgets that looks more like a cool car that can maneuver a city than a tank built for war. Harley Quinn has set up shop in Little Santa Prisca and decided that she is Batman’s new crimefighting partner (Batman disagrees with this. Strongly), and keeps showing up and causing trouble when he’s out on a case. The Fox Family is figuring out what it means to be the new first family of Gotham, and the responsibility that comes with that role. Barbara Gordon, Oracle is serving as eyes on a city that feels more and more like a powder keg. And Jim Gordon is trying to decide what his retirement from the GCPD is going to look like.
BATMAN #106 (variant cover)
On the whole, personally, I’m a bit conflicted.
On the one hand, I hope Tim becomes his own hero, develops his own identity. A new name (his own alter-ego), a new costume (his own look), that sort of thing; not just be “The Black Batman” but his own man. But that would be more of a current continuity want or desire.
If the variant cover above for BATMAN #106 is any indication of what’s to come in the current continuity, then I approve. I like Tim like that.
During the “Future State,” in that continuity, Tim is The Next Batman. So I guess I just hope for good story and cool art in that instance.
With the recent announcement of FUTURE STATE: GOTHAM, and the promise of more stories involving Tim, and the whole “rendered in stark, black and white tones,” it’s looking like I may get that.
Add in Tiffany Fox as the sidekick, from BATMAN BLACK & WHITE #3.